Man, there's nothing better than when a series lasts until the final game. It might not be the ideal way to recognize the better team, but it's certainly the best way for me to smile and jump around a lot. Today, we get to have our cake and eat it, too, as both NLDS match-ups conclude tonight with pivotal Game 5's.
The first game of the night probably wasn't supposed to happen, quite frankly. The Brewers were up 2-0 in the series with a clear pitching advantage in Game 3, but failed to defeat the D-Backs in either of the games at Chase Field. Arizona's offense looked completely at home in the positive hitting environment of their field, reminding us that most people were probably giving Milwaukee too much credit coming into this series. There was a borderline consensus that the Brewers were favorites, and they probably still are, but we have to credit Kirk Gibson and company for making the series so damn interesting.
Tonight's match-up is actually a repeat of the starting pitching from Game 1, and frankly, little has changed about my evaluation since that time. At the point, I noted that Ian Kennedy had probably pitched a tad better over the course of the season, but Yovani Gallardo had the momentum going into the game. I ended up being right, as Gallardo was dominant over eight innings that night. Today, Gallardo is still the red-hot pitcher. Over his past five starts, he's thrown 29 innings, struck out 45 hitters and walked just 4. I picked him to win the NL Cy Young before the season, and I was wrong about that. But these days, he's pitching like the guy that I was expecting to see in March.
The night's other game isn't really so; it's more like the headliner. Yovani Gallardo-Ian Kennedy is certainly a nice duel between young pitchers, but things rarely get much better than Roy Halladay-Chris Carpenter. That's the match-up that we're looking at for tonight's Phillies-Cardinals game, as the Phillies try to stave off a St. Louis comeback in their home park.
You know how Phillies fans kind of have a bad reputation? Or at least a reputation for, say, being a bit much? Well, if they lose tonight, I'm going to be very, very interested to see how they react. The Phillies may be the slightly better team with the slightly better pitcher on the mound, but the Cardinals have great hitting and a pretty darn good pitcher, too. I'd say the odds that the Cardinals win this game are around 45-55; basically, you can assign those ~5 percent to the "Doc Factor".
Either way, though, we're pretty darn lucky to be baseball fans tonight. In early September, it looked like we'd have to bore through an uneventful month before hitting the postseason. Now, it's hard to say that we could be any luckier. We got the epic comebacks to conclude the season, and now we've seen three of the four division series hit the magical fifth game.
If you guys didn't notice lately, this game we call baseball has been on a roll lately.